For most women, the normal age of weaning happens sometime within the first year of their baby’s life. However, continuing breastfeeding into the toddler years can be a wonderful experience for mother and child. It also provides many important benefits.
My youngest child is now 15 months, and still breastfeeding strong. Like her older brothers, she has no problem continuing breastfeeding into her toddler years. And because it provides so many health benefits, I have no problems breastfeeding for as long as possible.
- Breastfeeding makes sure that picky toddlers still get enough nutrients. Parents with a toddler knows that they can be very picky eaters. However, getting their fill of breastmilk provides them with the vitamins and nutrients that they might otherwise be missing. According to KellyMom:In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001
- Breastfeeding is a simple way to overcome tantrums. Toddlers can become easily upset as they try to navigate the world around them. Often, they can become too upset to be consoled and fall into a tantrum. Breastmilk, however, contains those relaxing hormones that helps put a baby to sleep. Those same hormones can help calm down a toddler before she gets too worked up.
- Breastfeeding a toddler helps them to stay healthy. Toddlers are germ magnets, often picking up bugs from everything they touch and taste. The immune system boosting aspects of breastfeeding helps to keep them strong and healthy against the constant assault of germs. When they do become sick, breastfeeding can help them recover faster and feel better.
- Extended breastfeeding is better for moms. Studies have found that women who breastfeed have lower risks of certain cancers, diabetes, and depression. The longer you breastfeed the healthier you will be too.
- Breastfeeding helps toddlers in the long run as well. Just as it can work to lower a mother’s risks, breastfeeding your toddler now can mean lower risks when she is older. Breastfed toddlers grow into adults who have lower risks of diabetes, obesity, asthma, and heart disease.
Breastfeeding a toddler can be tricky to do, and it is certainly not the norm for much of our society. But the benefits of breastfeeding are important for both children and mothers. -Summer, staff writer
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